Saturday, 25 June 2022 | 11:42 WIB

Tokyo: Shortage of Special Syringes May Hamper COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Tokyo: Shortage of Special Syringes May Hamper COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout (npr)

TOKYO, NETRALNEWS.COM - The special syringes that are rare in Japan nowadays might hamper the vaccination program that is going to be held on Wednesday (02/17/2021).

Therefore, the Japanese government tries to preserve the special syringes supply so that the available vaccine doses can be used entirely.

However, the factories have difficulties in increasing the production of syringes, and millions of vaccine doses will be wasted.

Japan, a country with 126 million people, signed a contract with Pfizer Inc. to buy 144 million vaccine doses. Those vaccine doses are considered to be sufficient for 72 million people.

Pfizer said that there are six doses per tube if the special syringes are used, whereas the usual syringes can only let five doses out of the tube.

"We try to use the special syringes," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato on Tuesday.

So far, Pfizer's spokesperson in Japan and the Japanese Ministry of Health have refused to comment regarding the vaccine purchase contract. Both parties have not made sure whether 144 million vaccine doses are sent with the assumption that each tube contains six doses.

Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese Prime Minister, considers the vaccination as the priority policy because he is still trying to make the Tokyo Olympics happen this summer. The Tokyo Olympics was postponed for a year due to COVID-19.

Japanese health authority has requested the health equipment producers to increase the production of syringes to reduce the possibility of wasted vaccine doses. However, many parties are hesitant whether the factories can fulfil the government’s request.

Nipro Corp, which owns factories in Thailand, said it plans to increase the production of about millions of syringes per month. However, they need five months to be able to reach the target. Nipro Corp usually produces 500,000 units of syringes per month.

"We have received requests from the Ministry of Health, and we have to do something. However, the request cannot be fulfilled in one night. At least we need about four to five months before the productions can be increased," explains the spokesperson of Nipro.

Another factory which makes health equipment, Terumo Corp, said their factory has been developing the special syringes that can let six vaccine doses out of the tube.

Yet, for Terumo, it is still too early for them to announce the syringes production for commercial use.

Even though the number of COVID-19 positive cases in Japan has decreased in the past weeks, the local authority still implement the emergency status in Tokyo and other nine prefectures.

Japan has reported a total of 418,000 positive cases and 7,042 of them are death cases, as reported by NHK.